Today, the U.S. Senate passed the bipartisan TRACED Act – legislation co-sponsored by Arizona senators Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema that cracks down on illegal robocalls and holds perpetrators of such robocalls accountable. The legislation now heads to the U.S. House.

“Every Arizonan can agree that robocalls are annoying and relentless. Even Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Senate can agree on it,” Sen. Martha McSally said emphatically. “Going forward, there will be stricter penalties on those who defy the law, in addition to increasing needed accountability to identify wrongdoing. I urge my colleagues in the House of Representatives to swiftly pass this bill so we can protect every Arizonan’s phone number and their privacy.”

As one report estimated, 42 percent of all calls will be spam calls by early 2019, a 12 percent increase from last year. The TRACED Act gives regulators more time to find scammers, increases penalties for those who are caught, promotes call authentication and blocking adoption, and brings relevant federal agencies and state attorneys general together to address impediments to criminal prosecution of robocallers who intentionally flout laws.

Summary of the TRACED Act:

Broadens the authority of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to levy civil penalties of up to $10,000 per call on people who intentionally flout telemarketing restrictions.

• Extends the window for the FCC to catch and take civil enforcement action against intentional violations to three years after a robocall is placed. Under current law, the FCC has only one year to do so, and the FCC has told the committee that “even a one-year longer statute of limitations for enforcement” would improve enforcement against willful violators.

• Brings together the Department of Justice, FCC, Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Department of Commerce, Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and other relevant federal agencies, as well as state attorneys general and other non-federal entities to identify and report to Congress on improving deterrence and criminal prosecution at the federal and state level of robocall scams.

• Requires voice service providers to adopt call authentication technologies, enabling a telephone carrier to verify that incoming calls are legitimate before they reach consumers’ phones.

• Directs the FCC to initiate a rulemaking to help protect subscribers from receiving unwanted calls or texts from callers.

“Our bipartisan bill holds robocallers accountable and protects hardworking Arizonans from their scams and harassment. I urge the U.S. House to quickly pass our legislation so we can continue to protect Arizonans from the rising number of illegal robocalls,” said Sinema.